A Senior lecturer with the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, Dr Awotein George, has called on Federal Government to re-establish Agricultural Produce Marketing Boards, to boost the economy.
George told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt on Tuesday that re-establishing marketing boards would also boost the agricultural sector.
He said the need for such boards became necessary, especially at the present economic situation in the country when all efforts were on to diversify the nation’s economy.
The don, who is the Head of Department of Fishery and Aquatic Environment, noted that most agricultural produce were easily perishable when not processed.
He recalled that marketing boards had existed in Nigeria and helped the agriculture sub-sector which was the country’s economic mainstay before crude oil was discovered in commercial quantity in 1956 in Oloibiri, now Bayelsa.
Oloibiri Oilfield was discovered on Jan. 15, 1956 by Shell Darcy,thus, ending the 50 years of unsuccessful oil exploration in the country by various international oil companies which he said launched Nigeria into the limelight of the Petro-State.
George also noted that there were also rubber, cocoa, groundnut, palm oil and cotton marketing boards.
He said each of the four defunct regions was noted for the production of rubber, (Mid-West Nigeria); palm oil, (Eastern Nigeria/Mid-West); groundnut and cotton (Northern Nigeria) and cocoa (Western Nigeria).
The lecturer said that then, the boards then, had the responsibility of announcing the market price of each produce to farmers at the beginning of planting season in accordance with each produce grade.
George said the reviving the boards would stabilise market prices of the produce, encourage and enable farmers to know their estimated income for the year, depending on the grade(s).
He further said the market prices encouraged farmers to increase their production for the year as they knew that their labour would not be in vain as there would be stability in market prices.
The don said one of the problems of agricultural sector was the perishability of produce, uncertainty of market price and market glut.
George said if marketing boards were revived, spoilage of agriculture produce and market glut would be over and help to mop up the produce, store and for sale later.